National | North America

Kia Ora, Amerika! Top TV show shines spotlight on Rotorua and te ao Māori

Photo credit / Stuff

Mōrena, Amerika! Te ao Māori on full display in the United States. Credit: YouTube / Good Morning America.

The United States’ most watched breakfast TV show has given its viewers a live glimpse into te ao Māori following its co-anchor being taken through Rotorua’s geothermal park, Te Puia.

ABC News' Good Morning America, a show that has more than three million daily viewers, had journalist and Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts take her first taste of Māori cuisine. At the same time, Te Puia's general manager, Eraia Kiel, explained the different elements on live television in America.

The 1am [NZ time] live broadcast featured a kumete food bowl complete with kai cooked using the geothermal-heated boiling pools and steam boxes, after Kiel explained the meaning of 'kia ora' – a greeting or in translation 'be well' - to Roberts.

“Kai for us is as much a spiritual connection as it is a physical,” Kiel told Roberts.

Roberts herself was surprised and stunned that kai was prepared inside the geothermal geysers every day, that the country has a  fascination for meat pies and finding out the term kiwi was in reference to the country’s national flightless bird.

The show’s coverage of the country includes one of two live broadcasts on the show. Roberts will be venturing to Queenstown, Fiordland and Auckland among other places.

The Te Puia broadcast's focus was exhibiting its rich cultural heritage, and according to chief executive Tim Cossar, the producers had no shortage of stories to choose from.

“Everyone here has a personal connection to this place. The production team met many who shared their stories but there were far too many to cover in one live broadcast!” he said.

“This morning, our people, traditions and culture made their way into the homes of millions of Americans and we are beyond thrilled to have this opportunity to remind them – and the world - what makes us so special.”

Roberts and her production crew have experienced many things about te ao Māori in their time at Rotorua from carving, kapa haka, and te reo Māori to pōwhiri, tikanga, weaving and more.

Numerous Te Puia and NZMACI kaimahi participated in the broadcast, from weeks of preparation to live interviews where they gave the North American audience a taste of their famed manaakitanga.

“Te Puia is part of Rotorua’s fabric and we are deeply passionate about our role in shining a light on Māori culture, where Te Puia has come from and where we are heading.”

Public Interest Journalism